Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Daily Show comes to the Arab world

There is no denying that The Daily Show's Jon Stewart has become a household name not only in the US but in the Arab world as well. With his extensive coverage of world hypocrisy, Stewart has transformed comedy into a serious form of television and become one of the most trustworthy news sources out there. From US republicans and democrats to state leaders throughout the world, he spares no one. Here's a classic moment in the show on America's Freedom Packages:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A personal message on recent events in Amman

Friday, March 25, 2011 will be marked as a sad day in the history of Jordan. It is the day we were bombarded with images of Jordanians throwing rocks and insults at other Jordanians who were protesting peacefully in the streets of Amman, demanding real reform. This group was not chanting "down with the regime" or the king. They just wanted a better country and were inspired into action by events in Egypt and Tunisia. Reckless, yes. Admirable, definitely.

The more I read about this, the more I became convinced that this was a case of a simple misunderstanding (I use "simple" in the loosest meaning of the word). Most of the stone throwers seemed convinced that the protesters had only one intention: To dethrone the King and establish an Islamic Palestinian state in Jordan. Those Jordanians truly believed they were defending their country. Misguided, yes. Needs addressing, definitely.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The generation gap

A couple of weeks ago, I attended one of the events of the Israeli Apartheid Week in Amman in which Attallah Hanna, the Archbishop of Greek orthodox of Jerusalem, was giving a talk. Upon arriving there, I immediately noticed that the age group of those attending was markedly higher than that of other events I had recently gone to, such as the Hashtag Debates at Makan House and Freedom Choir at Balad Theatre. I didn't think much of it and thought maybe this topic appeals more to the older generation than it does to younger crowds, who are now busy changing their own countries (to be fair I did spot a few familiar faces who present at all 3 events).

And then it started... One and a half hours of a talk, to people who completely disapprove of Israel, on how criminal Israel's actions are. I will not say that the Archbishop said anything that I disagreed with in principle. The problem is, he was just preaching to the choir (pun intended). My friend, Kariman, kept turning and asking me, "Is he gonna propose practical solutions?" I would just shrug, hoping that he would, knowing he won't. Because obviously, if he had practical solutions, he wouldn't be in Amman, talking to a group of people who enthusiastically applaud every time he said "Arab unity" and "Nasrallah". A woman next to us kept yelling "Yes! You are right!" at the end of each point. I am sad to say, and with all respect to the Archbishop and the struggle of his people... I was not inspired.

Monday, March 14, 2011

To motivate or not to motivate

This is not a blog post but I wanted to share this with you. It's a video debunking the myths on what really motivates us. It's a relatively old theory that I've encountered many times in the past few years, but this video is to the point and extremely entertaining (who doesn't like things explained to them in cartoons?). It also forced me to think more about my work and helped me set clearer objectives for myself. This is a must watch for anyone whose career is an essential part of their life. Here it is:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In the wake of the quake

Less than a year ago, I started suffering from knee pains and was diagnosed with what is basically weak muscles in my legs. The doctor told me that all I had to do was strengthen those muscles by doing daily exercises. I went back home excited and determined that I shall overcome this and exercise myself into well-being. So I embarked on a regiment of a 5-minute muscle strengthening exercise that I would jot into my daily calendar to make sure that I am consistent in applying it. Within a week, I started noticing an improvement. However, two weeks later, I also noticed that I was skipping days and just over 2 months after my initial diagnosis, I had completely stopped. Currently, every now and again, when my knees pains become too much to handle, I do a couple of days of exercise and think to myself "This is silly. I need to go back to doing this on a daily basis. No need to ruin my already weak knees at such a young age." But I never do.

Now, replace every "knee pain" in this story with a problem the Arab population is facing, "doctor" with "group of experts (economists, scientists, or even doctors)", "exercise" with the solution they prescribed and tell me if this isn't exactly how almost every issue is handled in our countries: Identify a problem, find a solution, start implementing, and lose steam really really quickly. Anyone who has been involved in the public sector in Jordan or Lebanon will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

What we really need

A while back, my mom was planning a business trip to a certain Arab country but realized she didn't have sufficient time for the visa. Since my dad knew the ambassador, he decided to call and see if there was any way to issue the visa earlier. As soon as he started explaining the situation to him, the ambassador interrupted "Speak no more. I understand. You want to make sure her visa gets denied without implicating yourself. Consider it done!" Of course my dad then assured him that this wasn't the case at all and he had no problem with the fact that his wife, a PhD holder who owns a well known establishment for making educational toys and books for children and teaches at the American University of Beirut, travels on business.